A federal jury recently found in favor of State Farm Lloyds in a suit brought by a Hidalgo County resident claiming the company failed to fully compensate him by paying to replace his cement tile roof following the March 29, 2012, hailstorm that swept through the area.

Plaintiff Joe Cantu originally filed suit against State Farm in state court. The case was removed to federal court in March 2013, court records show.

Nearly three years later, the litigation went to trial, with a jury finding in favor of State Farm on Jan. 27.

Cantu asserts the hailstorm marred his Mission home, damaging his roof, pool, outside kitchen and fence. He sought total roof replacement for “8 to 14” damaged cement tiles, court records show.

State Farm assigned an adjuster, who allegedly “turned a blind eye to damages that were clearly covered under the policy,” the suit states.

Cantu alleges his claim was undervalued at $2,443.15, which was, “not coincidentally,” under his deductible.

“It is common practice for State Farm to estimate the damages sustained by one of its insured’s to be under the deductible so that State Farm does not have to pay any money on the claim,” the suit alleges.

Court records show State Farm moved for summary judgment last May, arguing there was no evidence to support Cantu’s allegations.

“Plaintiff alleges that he is entitled to an entirely new roof because repairing the 8 to 14 damaged tiles on his roof may result in the use of tiles that are similar, not the same, as the brand of tiles currently on his roof,” the motion states.

“However, even if Plaintiff’s damages exceeded his deductible, the Policy provides for repairs of like, kind, and quality. As such State Farm did not breach the insurance policy.”

Dallas commercial insurance attorney Steven Badger with Zelle LLP believes State Farm “should be commended for having the fortitude to take these matters to trial and demonstrate that the lawsuits are without merit.”

“The outcome is not surprising. Like previous jury verdicts favorable to the insurance companies, it is obvious juries are realizing that most of these hail damage lawsuits do not involve the underpayment of legitimate claims,” said Badger.

“Instead, juries recognize that these lawsuits are about roofing contractors, public adjusters, policyholder attorneys, and their so-called experts trying to manipulate the system for their own financial gain.”

Badger represents the insurance industry in responding to hail damage lawsuits.

State Farm is represented in part by Christopher Martin, attorney for the Houston law firm Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom.

Cantu is represented by Houston attorney Richard Daly.

Case No. 7:13-cv-00105

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